Many on the right will be exclaiming that this is the beginning of a brave new world for Canada. However, I disagree… this minority government is a step in a new direction, that is for sure, but in order for it to be a real change, other things need to happen… I’ll explain.
There are many strong emotions flowing through Canadian minds today.
On the Right, there is a lot of disappointment in the minority result. A lot of people really got their hopes up when they saw the polls turning towards the Conservatives in January. The strongest supporters of course thought this would surely mean a majority and a decimation of the Liberals in the House. I think a lot of people (Ezra Levant being one?) thought for sure the Liberals would be defeated like the Conservatives were after Mulroney. That simply has not happened and so it is understandable that they are very disappointed, especially with the results within the cities of Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver, where the Conservatives were shutout.
(As an aside, this rural/urban split reminds me greatly of the Democrat/Republican split in the US… and I’m not comfortable with that)
On the Left, we (yes, including me) are feeling torn. I’m glad that many of Paul Martins cabinet ministers were defeated. I’m also glad that Paul Martin himself has stepped down. I’m happy with the results for the NDP (though not in my riding). Jack Laytons message to Liberal voters to “lend” him their votes looks to have worked for now. Now he just needs to prove that he can earn it from them next time. I am disappointed that so many Canadians decided the Conservatives were a better option than the NDP or Green party but I can understand their need to bring a fresh face to government. I don’t think Stephen Harper will do anything to hurt Canada, but I will be very wary of him.. and especially of his ministers. I think that feeling is shared by many…
Canadians have given Stephen Harper and the Conservative party a chance to prove themselves.
In essence, Canadians have, for the first time, voted in a Western, Regional party into power. Yes, the Conservatives gained seats in Ontario and Quebec that allowed them to take power, but you need only look at the results to see where their power base is. Since the Progressive Partyin the 20s, and the Social Credit Party in the 60s-80s… there has been a western, grass-roots party in Canadian Parliament.
Now, Stephen Harper has taken that incredibly strong western base and spread it east to Ottawa, no more can the West, and Albertans in particular, say they are underrepresented in Parliament.
The question now becomes whether Stephen Harper can keep power and grow it into a majority. In order to do that, he will have to use tactics used by his nearest predecessor and the most successful Conservative prime minister ever, Brian Mulroney. Mulroney was able to combine western regionalism with Quebec and Ontarios socialist leanings. Mulroney was, however, starting from a little further to the left himself, so with Harper we have a whole new paradigm.
I think we are going to see an over-representation (given the number of seats) of Quebec and Ontario ministers compared to those from the West as Harper tries to appeal to those voters (this is a Mulroney tactic). This will, frankly, piss off a lot of Albertans. But again, they represent the voting base of this Conservative Party, so they must remember that without them, the Conservative Party of Canada, and Stephen Harper, would not exist.
I think we’re in for a very very wild and unpredictable Parliament.
It’s going to be a lot of fun, and there will be groans of disgust from all sides of the debate as the wheeling and dealing gets revved up.
I hope that, in the end, this election means one thing. That Canada as a country is stronger. We need to start thinking as Canadians again and what is best for Canada because if we let ourselves slip into selfish regional battles, we are doomed to unhappiness. I hope we will be able to finally put aside the scandals of the past and start working on building a better Canada. Paul Martins resignation is one step in doing that. How Stephen Harper leads Parliament will be the other determining factor.
Uniting the House, and Canadians, above all else, will be Stephen Harpers most important task. I hope he is up to the challenge.